Over the past few months, OSHA has taken strong action against employers who have ignored, dismissed or cut corners with regard to the safety of workers in their facilities. In the examples summarized below, the proposed fines totaled more than $800,000, or an average of $200,000 per company. In each case, some of the cited conditions, and a least a portion of the fines, were directly related to electrical safety violations.
Some of the hazards for which citations were issued may seem rather innocuous to many facility managers, but situations like those mentioned below – a leaky roof, failure to conduct regular and periodic inspections, and failure to lockout equipment for even routine maintenance – can lead to serious safety hazards and costly fines for any kind of business.
There is a clear lesson here for facility managers: Pay attention, even to issues that appear to be minor, because they can have catastrophic results. In addition, employers must realize and remember that they are responsible not only for having safety protocols but also for training and requiring that their employees follow those protocols. Cutting corners to save money is both dangerous and can be costly over the long term.
Mitchell & Lindsey helps employers throughout the United States avoid scenarios like these by providing workplace safety inspections – with a specialization in arc flash analysis. We also provide workplace safety training.
Here are summaries of four recent OSHA citations:
Central Transport, LLC
OSHA fined Central Transport, LLC in Billerica Massachusetts $330,000 for “knowing and repeated disregard for basic worker safeguards,” according to an OSHA news release. Employees at the company’s freight shipping terminal in Billerica were exposed to electrocution and other hazards, including falls, crushing and other injuries. The cited conditions put employees at risk of deadly or disabling injuries, according to OSHA officials, and the company failed to take corrective action in spite of previous citations for similar violations.
Among the electrical citations: The building’s roof leaked water on to the work floor where electrical cabinets and forklift battery chargers were located. As a result, employees stood in water while plugging in battery chargers, exposing them to possible electrocution.
Colonna Shipyard, Inc.
OSHA inspectors found various safety hazards at Colonna’s Shipyard Inc., a ship repair facility in Norfolk, Virginia. In addition to falling hazards, inspectors found that, because of defective equipment, employees were exposed to a number of electrical hazards while welding. Having been previously cited for similar hazards in 2010, the company received four repeat citations, carrying an $85,000 penalty. A portion of the fine – $16,000 – was assessed for expecting workers to use damaged electrical equipment and unguarded machinery.
Wagner, LLC, a bird food producer in Jericho, New York, was cited by OSHA after an employee suffered serious injuries while cleaning birdseed from an industrial mixing tank. The machine apparently turned on while the man was working on it, severely injuring his hand and arm.
The resulting OSHA investigation found that, “Wagner’s failed to lockout energy sources to protect the worker from contact with rotating machine parts and the machine turning on while he cleaned it. The company also failed to conduct periodic inspections of written protocols related to locking out machines and did not train workers on these procedures.”
OSHA stated that violations like these at manufacturing plants are among the most frequently cited by OSHA. Wagner’s was cited for three willful violations related to these hazards. “A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health,” according to OSHA.
D&D Manufacturing, Inc.
D&D Manufacturing Inc. of Plano, Texas was cited for 41 safety and health violations – including 36 deemed “serious violations,” according to an OSHA news release. “Workers were at risk of serious injuries because D&D Manufacturing failed to guard mechanical and hydraulic presses and to ensure machines were de-energized during maintenance,” according to OSHA’s area director in El Paso.
OSHA’s news release adds, “With a penalty of $177,300, the 36 serious violations were cited for failure to provide adequate machine guarding; properly inspect power presses; and utilize proper procedures to de-energize equipment during maintenance, including punch presses. The employer also failed to… provide proper maintenance on conductors with damaged insulation; and exposed workers to live electrical parts.